Review: Virginia Distillery Port Cask Finished Virginia-Highland Whisky (2019)
While the Virginia Distillery Co. gears up for the launch next spring of its new flagship brand, Courage & Conviction, we thought it would be a good idea to revisit its current flagship offering, the Port Cask Finished Virginia-Highland Whisky. With releases now well into the double digits, plenty has changed about this whisky since we first reviewed Batch 3 way back in 2017. For starters, the whisky inside the bottle is no longer entirely sourced single malt from Scotland (which our Batch 3 sample was, unbeknownst to us at the time). Not long after our initial review, Virginia Distillery Co. began blending their own in-house single malt with their sourced stocks for this release. And somewhere along the way, the finishing regimen introduced European port casks in addition to those sourced from Virginia wineries. To date, I’m told that Virginia port casks still make up the bulk of each release (for our Batch 11 sample, casks from King Family and Bluestone Vineyards were used). Let’s kick the tires on this one again, shall we?
The nose is rich with a dried raisin sweetness, some warm gingerbread, vanilla bean, and oak spice. There’s still a bit of humid sultriness to it, but it complements the dark fruit and pastry notes at its core. On the palate, things turn brighter with notes of lemon zest, fresh berries, and a little pie spice. It’s oily with an almost candied sweetness that fades into the mid-palate as drier notes of cocoa powder and cinnamon stick take hold. The wine notes are still somewhat restrained for a port-finished whisky, but there’s nice balance here with the vanilla and honeyed cereals of the base malt melding with the raspberries and tannins of the port cask. The finish brings everything to a gently warming conclusion with fading notes of wood smoke and mulled wine. This one has clearly been fine-tuned since the last time we tasted it.
Note: Look for this one to drop the “Highland” reference in its name at some point in the near future, since apparently Scotland owns all the world’s “Highlands.”